Can Hope Scholarship be Used for Graduate Degree or Graduate School?

The quick answer is: “NO”, it cannot be used for a graduate degree or graduate school.  Upon first reading of the regulations, you may not see this important bit of information.  I’ve taken the key points from the Hope Scholarship Regulations to show what the law says with respect to graduate school:

Attempted-Hours Limit.
A student is ineligible to receive HOPE Scholarship payment once he or she reaches the Attempted-Hours limit of 127 semester or 190 quarter hours.
Students Enrolled in specific Undergraduate Degree programs of study designed to require more than 127 semester or 190 quarter hours of coursework for graduation or First Professional Degree Programs are eligible for HOPE Scholarship payment for a maximum of 127 semester or 190 quarter Attempted-Hours.

First Professional Degree Program.
A student enrolled in a First Professional Degree program may receive HOPE
Scholarship payment until such student has attempted 127 semester or 190
quarter hours.

You’ll notice that the term “first professional degree program” is used in the regulation wording.  It is important to understand the definition of this term:
“First Professional Degree Program” means a non-undergraduate program of
study that: (1) Accepts students after the completion of two or three years of
postsecondary study; (2) Results in the award of a non-undergraduate degree;
and (3) Has been specifically approved by the Commission for inclusion as a
First Professional Degree Program. For the 2012-2013 Award Year, Doctor of
Pharmacy Degree Programs, Masters of Health Science with a major in
Occupational Therapy Programs, Doctor of Chiropractic Degree Programs, and
Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs offered by Eligible Postsecondary
Institutions are approved by the Commission, and therefore considered First
Professional Degree Programs. Regardless of approval by the Commission as a
First Professional Degree Program, no student is eligible to receive HOPE
Scholarship payment once he or she has earned a Baccalaureate Degree of any
type, from any postsecondary institution, at any time.

This is very clear wording with respect to the eligibility of the Hope Scholarship for graduate degree study.  The last sentence clearly states that no student is eligible to receive HOPE Scholarship payment once he or she as earned a bachelors degree of any type, from any institution, at any time.

So, not only is a graduate degree not eligible, but a second bachelors degree is also not eligible, and any coursework beyond the bachelors degree is not eligible.


How Can I Regain Hope Scholarship

How To Regain the Hope Scholarship

The HOPE Scholarship is a reward for scholastic achievement and an incentive to continue working hard in school. If your cumulative grade point average is below a 3.0 at the end of Spring term, or after your first three terms of enrollment for less than 12 hours per term, or after attempting 30 semester or 45 quarter hours, you may regain HOPE at a future time. Re-entry checkpoints are after attempting 30 semester or 45 quarter hours, 60 semester or 90 quarter hours, and 90 semester or 135 quarter hours of study. To regain HOPE, you must have a 3.0 cumulative grade average at the re-entry checkpoint. You cannot regain HOPE eligibility at the end of Spring term, unless that term is also when you have attempted 30 semester or 45 quarter hours, 60 semester or 90 quarter hour, or 90 semester or 135 quarter hours with a 3.0 cumulative grade average.

How To Reapply for HOPE Scholarship

Depending on your personal circumstances or the institution you attend, one of several different forms can be used to reapply for the HOPE Scholarship each year. Contact the Financial Aid Office at the institution you will attend for specific application instructions that best suit your situation. You must complete the application process through the institution’s Financial Aid Office on or before the last day of the academic term (semester or quarter) or your withdrawal date, whichever comes first, in order to be paid for that
academic term.
The postsecondary institution you are attending may also require that you complete the institution’s application for financial aid or Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Please contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

Filing Appeals and Exceptions

In order for an appeal or exception to be considered, the student must file a written appeal or request an exception, with supporting documentation, within 45 days of receiving notice of denial. Please address correspondence to:

Compliance, Georgia Student Finance Commission, 2082 East Exchange Place, Tucker, GA 30084.

This information sheet highlights Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship Program. For the complete HOPE Scholarship Program Regulations, visit there Web site at or call for more information in metro Atlanta at (770) 724-9000 or toll-free in
Georgia at 1-800-505-GSFC (4732).

Merit based scholarships and student migration

A 2011 study entitled, “State Merit Based Scholarship Programs Influence on Outmigration” by Joseph A. Williams and John Burczek Dreier looked at state based merit scholarship programs and the influence of these programs on migration on students.

Included are key points as relating to Georgia’ Hope Scholarship program and findings…

“The first such program was the Georgia Hope Scholarship Program, which initially awarded students with full tuition to Georgia public institutions if they met certain high school GPA requirements. Fourteen other states have enacted similar policies since 1993, offering tuition discounts based on academic credentials (Orsuwan & Heck, 2009).
More recent state merit based scholarship programs enacted since the Georgia Hope Scholarship Program varied in funding source, award criteria, and award amount. While most state programs were funded through lottery revenues, other states utilized one time litigation settlement agreements to fund scholarship programs (Orsuwan & Heck, 2009). Furthermore, each state had distinct criteria regarding award criteria: GPA, SAT, ACT, class rank, state tests, or any combination of these account for the measures used to allocate awards. The award amounts were just as varied as the award criteria: full tuition and fees for four years or a one-time award of $1,000 were two extremes. Regardless of the funding source, criteria, and award amount, prior research depicted the influence of state merit based scholarship programs on students’ enrollment within their home state for higher education (Orsuwan & Heck, 2009).
The objective to retain residents in their home state for college was the short-term objective of state merit based aid programs. The long-term goal of some the state merit based aid policy initiative was to keep college graduates in state. Given a state’s investment, retaining its college graduates was critical to a state’s economic development. Strathman (2004) found that college graduates leaving their state upon graduation negatively impacted state appropriations for higher education. Further, social benefits associated with college graduates—lower unemployment, higher tax revenues, and voter participation—were often cited as valuable assets for states (Baum & Ma, 2007). Recent findings indicated that students receiving state merit based scholarships were 74% more inclined to leave that state upon college graduation (Ishitani, 2011). This troubling finding suggested that state merit based scholarship programs, regardless of their influence on high school student migration, may lead to unintended consequences such as outmigration of college graduates. Although this study will focus on migration of high school graduates, understanding students’ mobility post-college is an aspect that cannot be ignored and is a subject requiring additional research.
Purpose of the Study
Previous research delved into various issues related to student migration following high school. In many instances, studies conducted extensive state level analysis aiming to address how specific policies at a single state affect student enrollment patterns. For example, Groen (2003) studied migration effects in Georgia given the goals of the Hope Scholarship Program. However, he primarily focuses on migration of Georgia Hope recipients once graduating from college. In addition, Hickman (2009) aimed to study how Florida’s Bright Futures Program related to student migration out of state. These studies were valuable at the state level, and they have indicated a need for a national study of state merit based scholarship programs. Orsuwan & Heck (2009) recently studied how state scholarship dollars and pre-paid tuition plans affected migration.”

“The findings of our research demonstrate the presence of state merit based scholarship
programs influencing residents to stay in their home state for higher education. This finding only partially affirms what policy makers intended to influence with the enactment of programs such as the Georgia Hope Scholarship (Zhang & Ness, 2010).”

“Our study also poses some interesting questions for how policy makers interpret research findings on tuition pricing and outmigration. Given the insignificant findings of tuition prices at two- and four-year public institutions, further research is needed to more acutely measure tuition net-price, which accounts for tuition less any financial aid. Our study urges future policy makers to address the notion of net-price of tuition by creating better national data collection on the net-price, which would improve research examining student migration patterns. The recent National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) initiative to collect more robust data on institutional net-price has potential to more accurately derive metrics of tuition net-price for future research.
Another consideration for policy is that our results illustrate that state appropriations have influence in decreasing outmigration. Our research shows that as state appropriations increased, out-of-state migration decreased. This result is important to consider for state legislators as they reflect on the future of state merit based scholarship programs. Additionally, assessing the effectiveness of these programs is important during turbulent budget years, as many costly programs are discontinued or phased out.”

Georgia’s Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant Award for Hope Grant Recipients

Georgia’s Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant Award

Good news for Hope Grant recipients!  Although the Hope Grant does not supply funds for books or supplies, there is an award available to Hope Grant recipients that does.

Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) students who are receiving the HOPE Grant may also be eligible for additional financial assistance from a Georgia’s Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant (SIWDG) Award for the following TCSG programs:

Commercial Truck Driving
Diesel Mechanic
Early Childhood Care/Education
Healthcare Technologies
Information Technology
Practical Nursing

To qualify for a Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant, a TCSG student must be fully admitted to the college, enrolled in one of the above programs and receiving the HOPE Grant for the same term.

The amount of the SIWDG Award is a fixed amount* for each term of enrollment:
Enrolled Hours Award Amount per term
9+ hours $500.00
3 – 8 hours $250.00
1 – 2 hours $125.00

*Commercial Truck Driving – enrolled 9+ hours; one-time award $1,000.00

Contact your area TCSG college for more information.
*Eligibility for the SIWDG Award for the Commercial Truck Driving program is for
one term only. The HOPE GED Grant, HOPE Grant, and SIWDG Award can be
awarded in the same term, if all other eligibility requirements are met up to cost
of attendance. High school students in dual enrollment programs are not eligible
for the SIWDG Award.

Key Points of the Hope Scholarship Program

Key Points of the HOPE Scholarship Program

  • Students must keep a minimum 3.0 HOPE grade point average (GPA) to stay qualified for the HOPE Scholarship.
  • All college credit hours taken (attempted) since high school graduation are used in calculating the HOPE Attempted Hours and the HOPE GPA.
  • HOPE Scholarship students are monitored to see if they are maintaining a minimum 3.0 HOPE GPA at the end of the semesters where they have attempted their 30th, 60th, 90th hours and at the conclusion of each spring semester.
  • The HOPE Scholarship Award Amount is based on a per credit hour basis. Payment is maxed out or capped at 15 hours per semester.
  • Once a student has 127 HOPE Attempted Hours or he/she has a total of 127 HOPE Paid Hours, or has earned a bachelor’s degree, the student is no longer eligible. This is applicable to all degree programs.
  • HOPE Scholarship has a 127 hour “hard” maximum cap. As an example, if a student ends a semester with 126 HOPE Attempted or Paid Hours, the HOPE Scholarship will only pay for 1 hour of the HOPE award rate for the following semester (as long as the student satisfies other eligibility requirements).  However, if the degree program requires more than 127 hours, the HOPE Scholarship will cover the hours that are required for the degree program.
  • Students who lose their HOPE Scholarship are only allowed to regain qualification one time.
  • HOPE Scholarship eligibility for students who received HOPE Scholarship before summer 2011 will end June 30, 2015. Eligibility for students not receiving the HOPE Scholarship before the summer of 2011 will expire 7 years after the date of the students’ high school graduation.

See more information regarding the HOPE Scholarship Program that is available on the GAcollege411 Web site.

You can review the 2013-14 HOPE Scholarship regulations at the Hope Scholarship Knowledgebase.

Example HOPE Scholarship Award Amounts for the University of Georgia

The dollar amount of each semester’s HOPE Scholarship award is determined by multiplying $218.46 X the number of hours in which the student is enrolled, up to 15 hours.

Since the HOPE Scholarship amount is based on the total number of hours enrolled in the semester, the HOPE amount will be less when students enroll in fewer than 15 hours as reflected below. The HOPE Award Amount cannot be increased for students who enroll in more than 15 hours.  The award assumes that all tuition above 15 hours is actually capped at a 15 hour rate; that is, 15 hours and above is considered a full time rate and is charged at 15 hours.

See the GSFC “HOPE Award Amounts by Institution for Fiscal Year 2014, Beginning Fall Term” at here for enrollment in 15 hours or less.

HOPE Scholarship and the Flat Rate Tuition Model
Student Enrolled in 15 hours
Tuition Assessed:   $4,014.00
HOPE Payment: - $3,276.90
Out of Pocket: = $737.10
Student Enrolled in 13 hours
Tuition Assessed:   $4,014.00
HOPE Payment: - $2,839.98
Out of Pocket: = $1,174.02
Out of pocket difference between 15 and 13 hours: $436.92

Additional UGA Specific HOPE Scholarship Information

HOPE Grade Point Average (GPA) and HOPE Attempted Hours under at +/- system

As an example, the University of Georgia implements a Plus/Minus grading system; however, not all schools have a +/- system; therefore, for the purpose of calculating the cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) for HOPE Scholarship eligibility, only letter grades of A through F are recognized so any Plus or Minus will be disregarded.

2013-14 HOPE Amounts (Maximum $218.46 per Credit Hour)

Flat Tuition Rate Students
Hours 13-14 Tuition Covered by HOPE
15 $3,276.9
14 $3,058.44
13 $2,839.98
12 $2,621.52
11 $2,403.06
10 $2,184.60
9 $1,966.14
8 $1,747.68
7 $1,529.22
6 $1,310.76
5 $1,092.30
4 $873.84
3 $655.38
2 $436.92
1 $218.46

The Zell Miller Scholarship Program

For a student to qualify for the new Zell Miller Scholarship, the student must graduate from an eligible high school 2007 or later with at minimum 3.7 grade point average (GPA) as calculated by HOPE Scholarship regulations and the student also must have scored at least a 1200 on the SAT (Math and Verbal) or a 26 on the ACT Composite, in a single test administration prior to high school graduation or be their high school Valedictorian or Salutatorian.

Initial eligibility for the Zell Miller Scholarship is determined by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC). Students determined eligible for the Zell Miller Scholarship are subject to all the HOPE Scholarship eligibility requirements except they must maintain a minimum 3.3 grade point average (GPA) on all coursework attempted since high school graduation instead of the minimum 3.0 gpa required for HOPE Scholarship recipients.

You can review the 2013-14 Zell Miller Scholarship regulations at the Hope Scholarship Knowledge base.

Zell Miller Scholarship Award Amounts

For 2013-14 the Zell Miller Scholarship provides a maximum Award Amount of:

  • $4,014 to students enrolled in 7 or more hours, and
  • $2,385 to students enrolled in 6 or fewer hours.

Returning Students and the Zell Miller Scholarship

The Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) has provided colleges and universities the names of students who graduated from a Georgia high school prior to 2011 with at least a 3.7 grade point average (GPA) and (prior to high school graduation) scored at least a 1200 on the SAT or a 26 on the ACT in a single test administration or were their high school valedictorian or salutatorian. The Zell Miller Scholarship will be awarded to these students instead of the HOPE Scholarship if they are currently eligible for the HOPE Scholarship and their college HOPE Grade Point Average (GPA) at their most recent HOPE Scholarship checkpoint was at least 3.3.

Maximum 127 Attempted or Paid Hours

The Zell Miller Scholarship has a 127 Attempted Hour and Paid Hour hard cap. All college credit hours attempted since high school graduation are counted in determining the number of Zell Scholarship Attempted Hours. If the student finishes a semester with 126 HOPE and/or Zell Miller Scholarship Attempted or Paid hours, the Zell Miller Scholarship will only pay for 1 hour the following semester (assuming the student continues to meet other eligibility requirements).

Zell Miller Scholarship Grade Point Average (GPA) and Attempted Hours

As with the HOPE Scholarship, Plus/Minus grades are not used for calculation of the Zell Miller Scholarship GPA.  For the purpose of calculating the cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) for HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarship eligibility, regulations recognize only letter grades of A through F so any Plus or Minus will be disregarded.


2013-14 Zell Miller Scholarship Amounts


Flat Tuition Rate Students
Hours 13-14 Tuition Covered by Zell
15 $4,014.00
14 $4,014.00
13 $4,014.00
12 $4,014.00
11 $4,014.00
10 $4,014.00
9 $4,014.00
8 $4,014.00
7 $4,014.00
6 $2,385.00
5 $2,385.00
4 $2,385.00
3 $2,385.00
2 $2,385.00
1 $2,385.00